Video link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuDj4pMIZw0
I know. It should have been obvious from the name skydive. Everybody must have presumed that I knew it was head first or that somebody else had told me. Right through the painstaking rehearsal I thought we would be free-falling feet (or, rather, knees) first, as we were told to bend our legs so that our heels touched the backs of our thighs, which didn't make sense at the time. I was puzzled when Alf, my partner/instructor, kept on saying "when I roll over". I still didn't get it.
So we took off in a 10-seater plane, sitting on the floor, with my bottom firmly wedged between Alf's legs; and then we shuffled along the floor on our bottoms until we reached the door. Alf had made almost 5,000 dives, so I wasn't nervous about safety, just about what would happen. I was concentrating really hard on keeping my bent legs from drifting towards the tail and then Alf rolled forward and we tumbled out of the plane at 13,000 feet, heads first. Yes, a dive. I presume the photographer [i], about four feet away from us, has captured all the surprise and horror of those first moments.
Alf tapped me, so I removed my right hand from my left shoulder and my left hand from my right shoulder, and put my hands out in front of me which made sense in a dive. I had wondered why I had been told to put them above my head when falling. There I was, hurtling towards the earth.
Once I had adjusted to the surprise, I enjoyed the forty seconds or so of free falling for 8000 feet at an angle of about 45 degrees. People asked me afterwards how fast we were falling but I can't transform the 32 feet per second of acceleration into miles per hour. I had been determined to count the forty seconds until the parachute opened but I was too busy following the training and keeping my body neat. Then the parachute opened and we were righted, with our feet pointing towards the ground. It was quiet enough for Alf to speak. He got me to rehearse our landing procedures and then he helped me steer us back towards the airfield, the last 5,000 feet taking about five minutes. We heard the whistle of a steam train and as Alf is a bit of a steam buff we went to have a look.
Alf counted to three and said "stand" but it was so windy that we were pushed over when our feet touched the ground, so we landed in a heap; but no bones broken, and great relief.
As I have reached my £5k target thanks to your help, I'm keeping my promise to Margaret not to do it again; but it was worth it, a little for the experience, but much more because of the money that will go to help complete the RNIB Pears Learning Centre for blind children with additional disabilities [ii].
My page is open for three months more so plenty of room for more donations! Thanks a million to all you good people who have supported me. It was worth it.this I dived in aid of a major construction project at RNIB Rushton School & Children's Home where we're building a new School and Children's Home to provide care and education for 30 visually impaired children with additional needs. These can range from an additional sensory or physical impairment to social, emotional or behavioural difficulties.
[ii] RNIB Pears Learning Centre http://www.rnib.org.uk/livingwithsightloss/livinglearning/rushtonschoolhome/Pages/rushton_school_home.aspxs
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